Fireworks Safety

The coming of the Independence Day holiday is often celebrated with fireworks displays by many communities. Unfortunately, many individuals purchase fireworks illegally for their own home display.

Most fireworks are illegal in the State of Illinois. Illegal fireworks are usually purchased outside the state and brought into Illinois. There are many mail order companies that send magazines to Illinois residents. Generally speaking, if it explodes, shoots a flame, or goes up in the air, such as a bottle rocket, it is illegal. Legal fireworks include sparklers, smoke bombs, and caps. If in question, the Illinois law and local ordinance should be referenced.

While some fireworks are technically legal, they are far from safe. Sparklers burn at a temperature of over 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, it takes matches and lighters to ignite the fireworks. A young child may think of these items as toys and experiment with them. The result from match and lighter play can be deadly.

Fireworks are fun to look at, but should be left to professionals at public displays. The concern of the fire service, as well as many other agencies, is for the dangers that fireworks carry. Fireworks cause many fires and injure many people each year. Fireworks injuries are highest in summer months, but are not just limited to the months of June or July. The Illinois Society for the Preservation of Blindness (ISPB) states that one out of every three fireworks injuries is to the eye, and one-quarter of those injuries result in permanent blindness. Additionally, two-thirds of the permanent injuries happen to someone watching the display from the average of 22 feet away from the person lighting the fireworks.

An average 11,000 people per year are injured across the country and 20,000 fires are attributed to fireworks. The majority of fireworks injuries involve individuals under the age of 15. Children between the ages of 10-14 are more than 10 times as likely to be injured by fireworks than an adult 25 years or older. Records of the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal show that most common injuries occur to the fingers/hand and eyes. The type of fireworks causing those injuries are firecrackers and bottle rockets.